The First Underground Railroad. Freedom in Florida Part 2 (1739-1763)

This week’s Florida History Podcast, is the second-part of our four-part series on runaway slaves and freedom in Florida – the first underground railroad. This episode covers the period from 1739 to 1763.

For the British in London, knocking Spain out of the war of Austrian Succession was strategic in a larger global conflict. For the Anglo-American colonists in Georgia and the Carolina’s invading Florida was more about crushing black freedom and extending slavery.  Another clear motivation was the hostility of Anglican settles to Catholics, a theme that would repeat itself in the French and Indian War as well as the American Revolution. Therefore in 1740, Britain in invaded Spanish Florida, in a conflict that would be known as the “War of Jenkins Ear.”.

The invasion was led by James Oglethorpe who in 1733 had founded Georgia. Fort Mose was destroyed in the invasion.

On his way to St Augustine, Oglethorpe captured Fort Mose. The residents had mostly been runaway slaves from the British colonies. When the British captured Fort Mose, the free black residents fled to St Augustine where they played a critical role in the city defense.

Oglethorpe and his British forces began the siege of St Augustine on June 13th, 1740. The Spanish decided while St Augustine was under siege to launch a counter-offensive aimed at Fort Mose where the British had left behind a garrison. The Spanish and free black forces liberated Fort Mose and within weeks a Spanish fleet from Havana had reached St Augustine prompting a British withdrawal back to Savannah.

In 1752, Fort Mose was rebuilt and survived as a an African-American free settlement until the British assumed control of Florida in 1763.

Part I can be found here.

You can listen to the Florida History Podcast on Anchor (which hosts our show), SpotifyGoogleApple PodcastsRadio PublicBreakerOvercastCastro or Pocket Casts. Overcast, Castro, Spotify, Radio Public and Breaker have App Store apps for free which enable you to subscribe and listen on your iPhone if you do not use the Apple Podcast app. We release a new episode weekly.

All the episodes can be found here

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